Surrendering to the Future

Surrendering to the Future

Martin Chapter 11

Surrendering to the Future

Jesuits should be distinguished in their obedience—superior stands in the place of Christ

Obedience is desirable in dogs but suspect in people (Kathleen Norris)

Superior is an often misunderstood word

Obedience as Listening

Obedience is from oboedire—to hear—we are called to be obedient as Jesus was obedient to the Father

Obedience is usually within the context of a conversation and listening between the superior and the Jesuit—the desires of each need to be discerned

Annual Account of Conscience—Yearly manifestation to the provincial of one’s work, community life, vows, friendships, health, prayer, etc.

Right to Representation—in the event that a man feels his mission is a mistake and that the superior did not fully understand him, a man may represent himself to the same superior or to a higher superior—in the end (except for matters of conscience) a man must obey under his vow to do as the superior asks

Superiors realize that a man normally does best in a job he enjoys, but sometimes it is necessary to place a man where he may not want to be—we too have needs that must be met that not many people want to be a part of—in the end, someone needs to be in charge

Obedience is apostolic—it helps us to carry out our assignments more effectively

My experience is that obedience under a superior is less difficult than having a manager in a job who does not consult with me about his decisions for me

“Fourth Vow” = a vow of obedience to the pope to be missioned anywhere that he may want me—worldwide mobility offered to him with the broadest view of the Church in the world to go wherever the need was greatest

Benefits of Obedience:

  • Frees us from excessive self-interest, careerism, and pride
  • Allows one to respond to the greater needs of the community
  • Allows for the best use of a man’s talents given the needs of the community
  • Ultimately, obedience aids one in following God’s desires for the individual

With as Much Love and Charity as Possible

The age of the status vs. contemporary missioning

Acceptance under “Holy Obedience”—all superiors are asked to act with love for the Jesuit he is the superior of

Dismissal from the Society

  • Leave without shame or dishonor
  • Leave love and charity of the community, consoled in our Lord as much as possible
  • Guide the man to other good means of serving God and any other assistance that may seem best

Two Stories about Obedience

Robert Drinan, S.J.

John Courtney Murray, S.J.

Peritus = an expert theologian at the Second Vatican Council—usually an aid to a specific bishop

“Declaration on Religious Freedom” deemed religious freedom as a right for all people

Obedience demands a trust that God is working through the vow of obedience—God works even if superiors’ decisions seem illogical, unfair, or foolish

John Deere, S.J.

Marriage vows are very similar—can you remain true and faithful despite hurts and disagreements—can you continue to believe that God has blessed and will support the marriage vows

Often times the wisdom of a decision may come many years later

The Reality of the Situation

Are you willing to surrender to God’s will or God’s desires whether you are in a religious order or not

Discernment—ascertaining God’s will or God’s desires for oneself

Sometimes God’s will or God’s desires are right in front of us—it is doing what is directly presented to us

Walter Ciszek, S.J.—With God in Russia and He Leadeth Me

“God’s will for us was the twenty-four hours of each day: the people, the places, the circumstances he set before us in that time. Those were the things God knew were important to him and to us at that moment, and those were the things upon which he wanted us to act, not out of any abstract principle or out of any subjective desire to ‘do the will of God.’ No, these things, the twenty-four hours of this day, were his will; we had to learn to recognize his will in the reality of the situation” (Ciszek, He Leadeth Me).

“The plain and simple truth is that his will is what he actually wills to send us each day, in the way of circumstances, places, people, and problems. The trick is to learn to see that—not just in theory, or not just occasionally in a flash of insight granted by God’s grace but every day. Each of us has no need to wonder about what God’s will must be for us; his will for us is clearly revealed in every situation of every day, if only we could learn to view all things as he sees them and sends them to us” (ibed.).

What happens when you are confronted by overwhelming suffering? What does obedience teach us in this unfortunate state?

Acceptance of suffering—the realization that this is what God is inviting you to experience at this moment—God is revealed in a new way in this experience—God invites us to accept the INESCAPABLE realities placed in front of us—here obedience is accepting the reality set in front of us

Surrendering to the Future

Obedience in daily life = surrendering to the future that God has in store for you = acceptance of what is presented to you at that moment

Failure to surrender leads to denial, frustration, and desolation

Finding God in the Midst of Suffering

Theodicy = Why do we suffer? Or The problem of evil

  • No one can completely answer this question with a satisfactory statement
  • God’s ways remain mysterious—challenge to faith = “to live with a God we cannot fully understand, whose actions we explain at our own peril” (Rabbi Daniel Polish)
  • Some time-honored perspectives that help our understanding do exist

Reasons for suffering found in Scripture

  • Suffering is punishment for one’s sins
  • Suffering is a mystery
  • Suffering is a kind of purification
  • Suffering enables us to participate in the suffering of Jesus
  • Suffering is a part of the human condition in an imperfect/fallen world
  • Suffering can help us to experience God in new and unexpected ways

BUT even these are often found wanting in the face of innocents who suffer for no apparent reasons

In vulnerability, in poverty of spirit, in brokenness we are often able to meet God in new ways

We each need to find our own perspective of suffering—there are no EASY answers to suffering

We can turn to Jesus in our suffering as one who has shared human suffering in a very intense and personal way—a God who has suffered with and for us

Some Ignatian Perspectives on Suffering

How God might accompany us in our pain

First Principle and Foundation = the purpose of life for human beings is “to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls” (Ignatius, SpEx)—we are meant to be indifferent to all created things, thus we do not shrink from sickness, poverty, dishonor, or a short life

The Exercises and Christian tradition assume that life will present us with hardships

Call of the King = second week contemplation in the Exercises—“Therefore, whoever wishes to come with me must labor with me, so that through following me in the pain he or she may follow me also in the glory”—human life involves suffering

Through imagination see Jesus suffering in his daily life, ministry, and on the cross—Jesus knows what we know and more about suffering

Again, the Two Standards Contemplation imagines a world of conflict within ourselves between good and evil—Ignatius assumes the ultimate victory of Jesus’ forces for good—BUT choosing Jesus will involve suffering: poverty, reproaches, and contempt—to emulate Christ one must and will choose the more difficult path

Choosing the harder path is often part of the Exercises—“If I want to follow Jesus, then I will choose to become like him. And if becoming like Jesus means accepting hardships, then I will seek those things, assuming that this is not against God’s will.

No suffering is accepted for its own sake, rather it is chosen to emulate Jesus who accepted the suffering placed before him—this is difficult to do, BUT is the path to freedom and joy

The entire third week of the Exercises follows Jesus in his Passion and asks the retreatant to pray for “sorrow with Christ in sorrow; a broken spirit with Christ so broken; tears; and interior suffering.”—to be with Jesus as he suffers

Acceptance of suffering allows God to bring new life out of even the darkest situations

“We know the story of the Passion, Ignatius wants us to experience it as something fresh and immediate. We learn to suffer with Jesus, and thus learn to suffer with the people in our lives” (David Fleming, SJ).

Colloquy—speak with Jesus about your own suffering—share with one who knows and understands what you are suffering

Jesus of Los Angeles

Rather than face and accept suffering we often avoid it through accommodation, annihilation, or abandonment

Accommodation: not doing the right thing out of fear of offending someone and therefore avoiding the suffering that might come with it

Annihilation: destroy whatever might cause us to suffer—simply get rid of it

Abandonment: choosing another path rather than the one given to us in order to avoid suffering

Accepting the suffering in our lives is the only way to actually experience the promise of the Resurrection

God asks us to accept things that seem unacceptable, unbearable, or even impossible BUT in accepting them we are sometimes lead to new ways of finding God

Accept the “reality of the situation” (Ciszek)

Accept the “future that God has in store” (Farnham)

“Take up your cross daily” (Jesus)




Poverty of Spirit

Finding God in All Things

All of these are essentially the same thing, and all of them ultimately come down to OBEDIENCE